This is Why I Practice
Hi Yogis! This week, I am in Amed, Bali. My husband and I are here for a freediving camp and we’re thoroughly enjoying this beautiful island with its rich culture and warm, friendly people.
Sometimes it’s hard to get your yoga practice in while on vacation—perhaps because the whole point is to relax and get away from your usual routine. But at the start of this trip, I found it even harder than usual. Like, much harder.
It didn’t take me long to figure out the problem. I have some underlying frustrations in regards to teaching yoga. Fresh off my apprenticeship, I have tons of passion and knowledge to share and skills I need to practice, but circumstances have made it so I haven’t been able to teach much for the past few months. With my near-future prospects for teaching seeming limited as well, I feel anxious and unfulfilled.
The patient side of me considers I could be overreacting, but at the end of the day, teaching is a big deal to me. And while I’m here in Bali receiving top-notch, passion-driven instruction from some of the world’s best freedivers, I’m further reminded of my own desire to teach.
So, my resistance to getting on my mat this trip had everything to do with turning my frustrations towards my practice. I was rebelling against it in an attempt to gain some distance and control over the negative feelings I was having.
Not the healthiest tactic, perhaps...but sometimes you have to be your own best teacher and show yourself compassion during challenging times. On Monday morning, I didn’t berate myself for my resistance and force myself to practice. Instead, I decided to sit quietly on my mat and think about WHY I practice yoga.
This is what I came up with: the deepest and truest reasons I practice yoga.
Practicing is not something I do for anyone else; it is very personal to me. I do it so I can feel calm and centered. I do it because I love getting to know my body on a deep internal level. I do it to garner appreciation for my capable and limitless body—a tremendous gift indeed. I do it to feel gratitude for the elegant interconnection of mind, body and spirit we are all born with and meant to enjoy. I do it because it’s good for me, and has been my greatest teacher: I’ve learned dedication, discipline, focus, surrender, and faith because of it.
In order to stay motivated for the demanding practice of Ashtanga yoga, I have to keep coming back to these deep and personal motivations. I don’t practice to please my teachers, or to look proficient when I’m in the yoga room practicing alongside students who may come to my class. My reasons have nothing to do with making nice asana photos for social media, or wowing others with my competency and understanding. In fact, I want others to see me struggle. I want to be both privately and publicly okay with not being “good” at all aspects of yoga, because I will never master it.
I want others to see my imperfection and feel it’s ok not to be “good” at yoga all the time either—to know it’s ok to struggle and not have your shit together because at the end of the day, you’re trying to better yourself every time you muster the courage to face your weaknesses and practice. That's incredibly brave.
I have to keep centered on the reasons I practice: I do it for me. And it’s only from this deep personal foundation that I can be strong enough to guide others when I teach.
I hope the next time you struggle to find motivation to get on your mat that you take a moment to remember the reasons you practice, too. The purpose of yoga is to advance the individual--that can mean something different for everyone.
You do you. I’ll do me. Let’s just get our practice done as often as we can. I love you, I believe in you, and thank you for being my fellow traveler on this journey. Let’s keep each other strong and support one another as much as we can.